endangered species

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

State lawmakers hosted a freewheeling discussion Wednesday on the impact of federal land ownership and policies on Utahns. But their hearing focused almost exclusively on criticizing the federal government.

For more than two years state lawmakers have had an eye on transferring the control of federal lands to Utah. On Wednesday, a House-Senate panel heard more than a dozen witnesses describe their frustrations with feds.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  Two wildflowers that grow only where there are oil shale or tar sands will stay off the federal endangered species list for now.  Instead, an agreement has been worked out to protect some of the areas where they grow in eastern Utah.

The two species are Graham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue, two small flowers related to snapdragons.  They grow in eastern Utah and western Colorado where oil shale or tar sands are close to the surface.

Gail L. Patricelli

Utah leaders are pressing forward with their aggressive campaign to keep the Greater Sage Grouse off the endangered species list.

Republican Utah Congressman Rob Bishop is co-sponsoring a new bill to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the sage grouse to the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The West’s Republican are having a strategy session in Utah, calling on the federal government to cut regulation and surrender lands in their states.

Montana State Sen. Jennifer Fielder came to Utah to swap ideas at the Western Republican Leadership Conference. Fielder says Western states need to take control of federal lands because states do a better job managing wildlife, forests and range.

U.S. Forest Service

Utah is proceeding with its controversial strategy to protect the greater sage grouse, as state officials solicit bids from lobbyists to keep the bird off the endangered species list.

Jeff Hartley, an energy industry lobbyist, says the state needs more time to show sage grouse numbers are growing because of its approach.

“People need to know the states are making this effort and doing good work,” he said. “A listing would be bad for the state of Utah. And so to educate Congress, and thereby prevent a listing, is in the state’s interest.”

Center for Biological Diversity

Federal law restricts some development in Iron County to protect the Utah prairie dog. But a Utah congressman says it’s a case where the federal Endangered Species Act should be improved.

Republican Chris Stewart wants to change the way the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counts species in peril. He’s introduced the Endangered Species Improvement Act in Congress.

Jaclyn Kircher / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    

Two energy companies are seeking permission to drill in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Utah. The federal agency reviewing the proposal is now ready to hear from the public.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working for two years with the companies behind the drilling plans. Thurston Energy and Ultra Resources plan a total of 11 wells in their separate projects. The Uinta Basin already has over 10,000 oil and gas wells, so the new ones might not seem like much. But the wildlife refuge exists to safeguard wildlife and its habitat.

Dan Bammes

Biologists, environmentalists and government agencies are meeting this week to work on plans to protect the sage grouse.  They all agree on one goal – preventing the bird from being listed as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must make a decision on an endangered species listing by the end of September next year.  That decision could depend on whether it judges an environmental impact statement from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to be adequate.

Least Chub Gets New Home

Nov 20, 2013
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

  The least chub is a little minnow, only about two inches long.  The six remaining wild populations are found only in springs and creeks in western Utah, and about 15-thousand of them have found a new home.  The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocked a spring system on a private ranch in Fairfield, west of Utah Lake.  Mark Grover, a biologist with the Division, says the fish were raised in a state hatchery, but they come from a dwindling population at Mona Springs in Juab County.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

  A bird that spends only a few months in Utah each year could potentially change the way riverbank habitats are managed if it’s listed as a threatened species.  The Western yellow-billed cuckoo lives along river banks in heavy vegetation beneath stands of cottonwood trees.  That riparian habitat is disappearing in the West, and that’s why the U.S.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

  The federal government is planning to protect two kinds of wildflower that grow only in eastern Utah and western Colorado – and only in areas where there are oil shale or tar sands.

Alicia Geesman

  Utah’s state lands agency has a thousand prairie dog credits to sell.  They’re the result of a land deal that helps to keep the critters away from airport runways in southern Utah. 

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

  The state of Utah has released the final version of its plan for protecting the greater sage grouse.  The plan designates 11 Sage Grouse Management Areas stretching from Rich County to Kane County and outlines goals for improving existing habitat and protecting the birds from threats such as energy development, predators and wildfire.

Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are asking the federal government for more time before it designates the Gunnison sage grouse an endangered species. 

The Gunnison sage grouse is a smaller cousin of the grouse that lives all over the west.  In Utah, it lives only in San Juan County, mostly on private land near Monticello.  There are only about a hundred of them left.

Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are asking the federal government for more time before it designates the Gunnison sage grouse an endangered species. 

The Gunnison sage grouse is a smaller cousin of the grouse that lives all over the west.  In Utah, it lives only in San Juan County, mostly on private land near Monticello.  There are only about a hundred of them left.

New Plan Lets Ferrets, Landowners Get Along

Dec 18, 2012
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

  The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has worked out a framework for state agencies and private landowners to cooperate on protecting the black-footed ferret.  It allows landowners to continue grazing or other uses on their land if they're willing to set aside some habitat for the ferrets.

Brian Maxfield, a biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, says it gives the ferret's neighbors a clear understanding of what they can expect in areas where the ferrets have been re-introduced.

Allison Jones
Wild Utah Project

An advisory panel appointed by Governor Gary Herbert is getting ready to recommend a plan for protecting the sage grouse in Utah.  Utah and several other states are hoping to avoid having the grouse listed as an endangered species.  Biologist Allison Jones with the Wild Utah Project has attended all the group's meetings.  She tells KUER's Dan Bammes the plan won't protect every place in the state where the birds are found. Wild Utah Project website  

sage grouse
Dan Bammes

Utah and several other western states are working on plans to protect the sage grouse, with the goal of keeping the birds off the federal endangered species list.  Those plans have to be acceptable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and it's just issued a draft report that could give the states some guidance.  Noreen Walsh, the deputy administrator for the Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain Prairie Region, says it addresses the different circumstances such as energy development, predators and urban growth that threaten the sage grouse population across its 11-state range.

prairie dog tunnel next to runway light
Alicia Geesman

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow the city of Parowan to kill the prairie dogs that have been digging tunnels under the runway and causing other damage at its airport.  Utah prairie dogs are protected under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency issued a new rule yesterday that allows killing the animals where they pose a safety risk.  Parowan City Manager Shayne Scott thinks the new rule will help bring business back to the airport.